Dr. Richard Moore
Dr. Moore was a visionary educator. During his presidency at Santa Monica College from 1974 to 1994, this strategic planner set forth on an unflagging goal to provide educational opportunity to as many as possible and to put SMC on the map as the best community college in America. From the very beginning, Dr. Moore’s plan was to push unceasingly for growth and excellence. In response to Proposition 13, he lobbied for (and was instrumental in) the passage of the “free-flow” bill. This allowed students to attend community college outside their district boundaries and changed the landscape for all community colleges.
Dr. Moore set up SMC’s first personnel and business services offices and added a new role for SMC – to provide for those seeking career advancement through programs such as the Career Center, and the erstwhile SEEK. He founded SMC’s Emeritus College, and encouraged new traditions – from SMC’s NPR station KCRW to the former College of Design, Art and Architecture which has produced many distinguished artists, and became a model for the Arts Mentor program.
Many longtime SMC employees may remember the “Reading Hour” (when employees were required to drop what they were doing and read something, anything); Spanish language lessons piped into the restrooms for linguistic enlightenment; and “Think-Write-Create” days (when managers/program leaders were asked to spend a day just coming up with innovative ideas).
In an October interview with the campus newsletter, SMC in Focus, Dr. Moore himself reminisced about his favorite times at the college. In reference to his flair for the dynamic, he talked about the Flex Day gatherings at the time that he was president.
“We would open with Randy Lawson playing classical piano,” recalls Dr. Moore. “Then, off we went, featuring programs and staff!”
One of Dr. Moore’s favorite memories was of how he introduced the then newly hired faculty member Tommie Smith, the former Olympic gold medalist known for his symbolic “human rights” salute at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.
“I loved ‘Chariots of Fire’,” said Dr. Moore. “So I played the theme music from ‘Chariots of Fire’ and had Tommie come on stage. I was not against a little drama!”
“He wanted growth, he wanted the college to be exceptional, and he wanted communication between us and faculty,” remembered former SMC trustee and VP Herb Roney. “He demanded excellence and he wanted it quickly– he wanted students to have the very best education here, so the College grew from around 9,000 to beyond double.”
After finding out through a study that students who transferred to UCLA from SMC did better than all the other students, Dr. Moore set out to build a guaranteed transfer program – Scholars. Jeff Shimizu, the current Interim Superintendent/President, was among the first counselors he hired for that program in the mid-1980s. SMC became the first community college to get this Transfer Alliance Program with UCLA. Today, SMC's transfer reputation, and unrivaled counseling and student support system is largely due to the vision that Dr. Moore had, to make SMC “Number One in Transfers.” His concern that SMC serve underrepresented minority students and make it accessible to all, led to the creation of Black Collegians and the Adelante program.
“Working during the Dr. Moore years was an incredible adventure,” reflected Brenda Benson, Senior Administrative Dean for Counseling and Student Wellness. “I think the entrepreneurial spirit we are known for today stems back to the Dr. Moore days.”
Dr. Moore’s impact on Santa Monica College will be felt for as long as it exists – those of us who knew him, are the better for it. We have lost a true champion of educational opportunity and excellence – and are fortunate to have had Richard Moore’s leadership for two unforgettable decades.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested contributions be made to the Dr. Richard Moore Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will support student success.